Too Poor for Protection?

A Rebuttal of Chuck Hagel’s Cuts to Military Personnel

September 11th, 2001 was and eye-opening experience to America; this was the first terrorist attack on American soil by another nation spanning back decades. Al Qaeda’s attack threw into sharp relief our need for a military ubiquity on the global scale. Following the tragedy, America’s military was in a flurry of action and dispatched to the Middle East for a war that lasted over ten years. After approximately three years of withdrawing from Iraq and engaging in the process of clean-up, some politicians and government officials believe it is time for a reduction of the military, not only retiring Navy battleships and Air Force jets and planes, but in manpower as well. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is cutting too many soldiers in the United States Military with the proposed 2015 Department of Defense budget plan. A cut of this size jeopardizes both national security and economical stability in the United States. I am rebutting Chuck Hagel’s claim that cutting a large amount of active duty soldiers is unfortunate but necessary. He argues that a massive military presence, especially overseas, is not an essential part of a modern Department of Defense; in addition, the budget cannot support this many soldiers while running multiple training programs, producing weapons and vehicles, and keeping up with clean-up expenses. However well meaning, Secretary Hagel is mistaken in his assumptions, and I believe these drastic cuts to the military will impede our military instead of benefitting it. While his beliefs in fiscal responsibility and limited manpower bolster his claims, they are riddled with errors.

The first faction of Secretary Hagel’s argument disputes that our military does not need the numbers we have now, stating “the country no longer felt inclined to engage in the kind of long and costly operations it had mounted in both Iraq and Afghanistan,” and goes on to suggest “since we are no longer sizing the force for prolonged stability operations, and Army of this size is larger than required to meet the demands of our defence strategy” (Williams). However, this 14% decrease in active military soldiers (military wide: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) weakens the protection of our country. Active duty soldiers not currently serving our country in a time of conflict partake in daily training to remain ready at a moment’s notice for battle at military bases around the world . Private Betterton, a soldier in Pennsylvania’s National Guard, personally believes that the greatest longterm effect of the dramatic budget cuts will result in a less prepared military that shows weakness to the rest of the world and makes us more vulnerable or susceptible to attacks (Session with PV2 Betterton over Military Budget Cuts). Moreover, a rising conflict in Ukraine resulting from President Obama’s poor foreign policy is foreshadows another potential conflict for which the United States must be ready. As Representative Michael Turner of Ohio said, “We don’t always get to choose our conflicts” (qt. In Molon).

Secretary Hagel continues to rally around the military’s “suffering” budget, but there are many inconsistencies in his argument. In a New York Times article by the a group of 18 journalist with a wide range of expertise, it is verified that the biggest budget problem faced is the pay and benefits to veterans, the military, and their families (Editorial Board). However, an interview with Private Lucas Betterton contradicts these claims. During Private Betterton’s three month Basic Training period, there are multiple times in which Sergeants had to limit the use of ammo because the program was not appropriated enough to thoroughly train each and every soldier. In fact, the ammo that Private Betterton and his class were using had to last their entire training and the next three month training (Session with PV2 Betterton over Military Budget Cuts). The salary of an active duty Sergeant who is deployed and in combat averages around $26,000, and the benefits of a soldier, including their housing, are going to be steadily decreased or plateaued in the coming years. The 30,000 active duty soldiers that will be without a job if the military budget cuts are accepted will be thrown into the civilian workforce that does not correlate with their specific set of skills, and will be competing for entry-level jobs that can significantly lower their morale. In past years, the military has decreased the number of active-duty soldiers, so another even more significant cut just seems needless. In consequence of the 30,000 less soldiers, there will be less of a need for materials the military buys. While it may save the military money in the short term, long-term consequences can be as drastic as manufacturers of guns, weapons, ships, planes, and programs losing their jobs. A study conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency ranks the United States under Middle Eastern and African countries such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Azerbaijan for military spending by percentage used of the country’s GDP. The United States uses just over 4% of their gross domestic product while South Sudan, a country that has one of the lowest human developments for its population in the world, uses more than 10% of their gross domestic product.

Cutting personnel and soldiers in the military is detrimental to the United States for both fiscal and security reasons. Hagel’s argument is flawed because soldiers and their families will suffer financially with the cuts, as well as our prominence as a global military superpower. The consequence of my argument, if the troops are not cut, is simply the smaller financial burden the Department of Defense will cover. The consequences of Hagel’s argument, the cutting of troops, puts America at danger economically and security-wise. Not only is national security at stake, but the confidence in our government to lead and protect its people will be questioned.

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